Potlucks, Door Offerings, and Singing
The last three days have been enriching, enlivening, inspiring as I’ve worked with and enjoyed the company of 10 other Lutheran writers. The workshop was like this perfect gift, wrapped up in a perfect bow for me. I’ve written and published work for about 16 years, and what a joy to be able to share what I’ve learned with this group of women. We laughed, we learned, we wrote.
Because we are a group of Lutheran women, we engaged in typical Lutheran activities: we had a potluck (several people brought lunch items), a door offering (for those who couldn’t carry lunch items on the plane), we talked about law and gospel, and we sang. I asked for volunteers to lead morning and evening devotions, and without even suggesting it, of course each of them brought hymns to sing. So we sang with gusto, and even broke into harmony!
I’ve spoken to a variety of groups over the years, but never led an entire workshop like this, so it was new and exciting territory for me. It was busy for sure, but a good busy, full of lively discussion.
And I’ll probably have some bonus recipes for you soon! One woman brought a delicious white chili and another a bean salad and orange/chocolate cookies. So I’ll try to secure those recipes and get permission to put them up here.
I gave them three writing assignments, which they all embraced. The first was an exercise in audience. I suggested they write about the meaning of Easter for a variety of venues—something for different ages, for a church newsletter, for Reader’s Digest, for a local paper.
The second was sort of fun. I had read about fairy tale story starters being placed on cubes. On one cube, you put characters: a queen, a rabbit, a witch, a child. On the next cube, you add a setting: a dark forest, a castle, a pumpkin patch. On the third, you add a conflict. I adapted it to devotional writing. In one envelope I had bible passages. In another I had common objects. The silliest one was Pat’s—a snow shovel and Matt. 5:28, which is about the lust of the eye and the unfaithfulness of the heart. Her neighbor got a ripe juicy pear, so we all figured they needed to trade. Ha! Each one put together some thoughts in totally unique and interesting settings.
The third challenge I thought up once we arrived at the hotel. In the conference center, copies of artwork by famous artists lined the hallways, so I suggested they choose an inspiring piece and write about it.
Here’s what I wrote:
The woman slumped in the chair, her white chiffon dress spilling onto the Oriental rug.
He’d left her.
She remembered her English teacher describing the nuance of the term forlorn. Not only lonely. Abandoned too.
The bright scene outside her window mocked her in its cheery disposition. She sat, tear-stained, dress-wrinkled. Forlorn. Yet all she could think about was the tenor of his voice, the gentleness of his hand, the piercing brightness of his green eyes. His face turned away, his back to her, walking on to a new life. A life without her.
Can beauty reside alongside sorrow? she wondered. Can the picture of this moment encompass the weight of her heart? Can sorrow inspire? Somehow she hoped the answer was yes.
It’s always amazing to me how art inspires art. A brief viewing of this scene by Matisse inspired a character’s story that I dreamed up. I don’t know where it came from or where it will go, but it was fun to join in the inspiration!
It’s time for my monthly care packages to send to my niece, nephews, and give to Jacob, so I’m making a big batch of these chocolate crinkles. I like Hershey’s dark chocolate cocoa, so I’ll use that for the recipe. It calls for a LOT of cocoa–a cup per batch.
Here it is with the cocoa, sugar, and oil. Then I added the eggs.
Look at that dark chocolate goodness!
It got so stiff and thick that it sucked the beaters right out of the mixer! I may have added an extra 1/2 cup of flour. I think I got confused as I was measuring. And then I refrigerated the dough overnight.
Well, I think it’s fairly certain that I mis-measured as I was putting together the ingredients yesterday. My cookies came out kind of like hard chocolate balls. Blech. So I will need to start over when I have more time and energy. It was a double bummer since I doubled the recipe, but these things happen. Along with my failed cookies, the laundry room drain also backed up, so we had 2 inches of water in the laundry room after I did a load of laundry. And then the cat got out (Dewey of course, but thankfully I caught him fairly quickly). And then Lucy was skunked the other night, so we’re still recovering from that, cleaning and Febreezing every couple of hours. So cookies will have to wait for another day.